Can you eat well on $4 a day?


As a small business with a B2B blog, we spend most of our time writing about business trends, marketing strategies and how these elements can be correctly used together to generate revenue. This Thoughtful Thursday, we're taking a round-about approach to that subject matter. Good business starts with a good product or service that is grounded in a wide-reaching need. Mitch Rothschild, Chairman and co-founder of Vitals, wrote an article about his experience with the struggles of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), featured in Fortune Magazine. 47 million Americans currently rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program which allows an average assistance budget of about $1.44 per meal. Nutrition and plenty are two things lacking from the current SNAP system. We consider that to be a very big need which opens the door for innovative and creative business solutions in several industries, like agriculture and food markets.


During Rothschild's 10 day experimental trial of eating on the SNAP budget, he noted that processed foods were often much cheaper than fresh fruits, vegetables and other nutritional foods--in fact, organically grown foods were way out of the budget. Currently, the U.S. allocates $1.3 trillion a year for healthcare and only (it's a relative term) $80 billion on SNAP. Rothschild presents a general and valid argument that prevention is better than a cure, meaning that if more money was spent making sure Americans had access to nutritional food, perhaps less money would be spent on healthcare in the long run. By the end of his 10 day trial, Rothschild said he was already experiencing fatigue, lowered immunity and the other expected health issues that proceed a diet of high carbs, low protein, and virtually no fresh fruits and vegetables.

In addition to the physical strain, Rothschild recapped the experience of a mother using SNAP to supplement her family's diet:

In February, NPR interviewed Sara Martin, a mother who fell behind on her children’s immunizations. She wanted to vaccinate – but logistically, couldn’t. The doctor’s office was two buses across town. A long day with toddlers, she needed to bring several snacks with her – and she was on food stamps. The reality was that getting to the doctor was just too disruptive to the day-to-day business of eating and living.

So much energy must be spent on budgeting for and preparing meals; making sure to make the most of a budget without overspending and sacrificing meals down the road. The energy and time spent on mapping out the most basic of human needs potentially prevents SNAP consumers from doing much more than staying alive.

fspFarmers markets across the nation are aiding change for those using SNAP by doubling dollars for people who pay for produce with SNAP. The government is even supporting these programs with $100 million to support doubling bucks spent on fruits and vegetables. Although, $8.7 billion was cut from SNAP at the start of 2014 – reducing the average family’s assistance by $90 per month ($2.90 a day). Eating well shouldn't be a privilege or a luxury. We fully support Rothschild's theory of expanding the double-dollar program to supermarkets, bringing farmers markets into inner cities and restricting highly processed foods in order prioritize nutrition in government funded food programs.

The need for creative solutions is here. What will you do about it?

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